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Sean FitzPatrick's loans

[cross posted to thestory.ie]

The Independent leads tomorrow with a story about €100m in outstanding loans on which former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick is apparently not paying interest. That’s an interest bill of €400,000 a month, but no repayments are being made.

This actually partly relates to my story the other day about Anglo-Irish Nominees Ltd.

We know Mr FitzPatrick had personal loans from Anglo. But those loans did not include lending like the Atrium deal set out here. Money was lent to a company in which he appears to have had a beneficial interest. I wonder how much of Anglo’s lending related to Mr FitzPatrick’s personal interest in investments? This is on top of the personal loans we are already aware of.

The shareholders in Tysan, John Kerry Keane, Paul Coulson, Denis O’Brien, Lindat Limited, Lar Bradshaw, Sean Fitzpatrick, Gary McGann, Paddy Wright, Sean Melly, Pat Gunne, Longstone Estates Limited and Lochlann Quinn, don’t seem to have invested anything in the company apart from €3k share capital.

The liabilities of the company are pretty much all bank loans. The charge indicates there is no personal recourse to the borrowers. Anglo funded €70m of the purchase in 2005 and the 2006 accounts for Balcuik show an “ultimate shareholders loan” of €30m (probably lent by Anglo). The property was then revalued to €137m, handy that, and Anglo increased the borrowings and repaid the €30m to the shareholders. So there is no equity. Anglo get arrangement fees of around €2m and as much interest as possible and probably all of the risk.

And how many more of Anglo’s staff have loans, directly or indirectly, with Anglo?

And how many of these loans are going to be written off at taxpayer expense?

And of course the other question is this:

When Brian Lenihan met Sean FitzPatrick on September 18, 2008, the same day the first PwC report was requested, was Mr Lenihan, or the Regulator or Central Bank, already aware or made aware, of the extent of Mr FitzPatrick’s loans, direct or indirect?

It seems to me that when the results of that first PwC report on Anglo were given to the Government on September 27, just two days before the night of the bank guarantee, the Government, or its regulatory agencies, or Mr Lenihan himself, must have been aware of the extent of Mr FitzPatrick’s loans. The loans were too big for them not to be aware.

And were that the case, Anglo, including all of its deposits and liabilities, was guaranteed despite that knowledge.

Why?

Reports prepared for NAMA

Some time ago I sought the following information from the Department of Finance:

1) The titles, dates and authors of all cost-benefit analyses, impact reports or preparatory reports that have been carried out by the Department in relation to NAMA

2) The titles, dates and authors of all cost-benefit analyses, impact reports or preparatory reports that have been carried out by people or companies working on behalf of, or at the request, of the Department, in relation to NAMA

Outside of the FOI (though I still intend pursuing this information through FOI, whether or not it is rejected) I received the following information:

Merrill Lynch (engaged by NTMA)

A number of reports setting out options for the Irish banking sector, including the treatment of impaired assets

PwC (engaged by Financial Regulator)

Various reports produced by PwC, including due diligence on covered institutions arising from the Government guarantee Scheme and recapitalisation programme (in cases with the input of Jones Lang LaSalle)

Arthur Cox

Various legal assessments of covered institutions arising from the Government guarantee Scheme and recapitalisation programme

Peter Bacon, Special Advisor to the Minister / NTMA

Evaluation of options for resolving property loan impairments and associated capital adequacy of Irish credit institutions: Proposal for a National Asset Management Agency and associated required policy initiatives

Rothschild (engaged by NTMA)

Various reports and inputs into the preparations for the establishment of NAMA

Central Bank & Financial Regulator Reports

Various reports produced within normal operating parameters as well as certain assessments of the impact of contingency proposals

HSBC (engaged by NTMA)

A number of reports produced for the interim NAMA and the Minister

NTMA is a curious entity. Back in May were were promised salary scales for NAMA. Have you seen any? The salary of Mr Somers, the head of the NTMA is also secret, apparently. I feel another FOI request coming on.

Some questions for Mr Lenihan

[cross posted to thestory.ie]

The Daily Mail and Sunday Times have commented already on Lenihan’s diary as published here last week. The Daily Mail concentrated on the meeting with Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone on November 12, 2008. The Sunday Times was more concerned with all the constituency work Mr Lenihan was doing when he perhaps should have been doing more important work.

For my own part I’ve been parsing the document to see what dates coincide. I’ve also drafted and sent two follow up FOIs on the basis of information gleaned from Mr Lenihan’s diary. There will likely be follow ups to those too.

However, the diary itself raises a number of questions that I will list here.

1) Why was a meeting with Sean FitzPatrick on September 18 not listed in the diary?

2) Were instructions given by the Minister to PwC, following the meeting with Mr FitzPatrick, to begin its inquiry into Anglo?

2) What was the purpose of the meeting with Pat McLoughlin of IPSO on September 25? Was this related to lobbying in relation to cheque usage and ATM charges?

3) On the night of the bank guarantee, September 25, who was present at the Department of the Taoiseach with Mr Lenihan and Mr Cowen? No names are listed in the diary, but names were reported in the media.

4) What was the purpose of the meeting with Independent News & Media chairman Brian Hillery on October 31, 2008?

5) What was the purpose of the meeting with Ivan Yates on November 5, 2008?

6) What was the purpose of the meeting with Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone on November 12, 2008, and with James McGuill of the Law Society the same day?

7) What was the purpose of the meeting with Michael Ryan and Paul Ryan of Merrill Lynch on November 13, 2008?

8 ) What was the purpose of the meeting with Andre Orcell of Merrill Lynch and then Lochlainn Quinn on November 24, 2008?

9) What was the purpose of the meeting with Sean FitzPatrick and Donal Drumm of Anglo, on December 16, and why does the diary entry merely list the meeting as “Anglo Irish” instead of their names?

10) Why is there no mention of any meetings with Patrick Neary, the then Financial Regulator, right up until his resignation on the night of Friday, January 9?

11) What was the purpose of the meeting with property developer Stephen Vernon of Green Property on January 30, and with Axel Wieandt of Hypo Real Estate on the same day?

12) What was the purpose of the meeting with Rick Lazio of JP Morgan Chase (who ran against Hilary Clinton in New York in 2000) on April 24?

Anglo Irish Bank (Part 1)

The first in a multipart series looking at the companies and subsidiaries of Anglo Irish Bank, now a State-owned entity. Happily the series almost coincides with the first anniversary of the bank guarantee announcement. Onto the details:

First up is Anglo-Irish Bank (Nominees) Ltd.

Second a definition: A nominee company is a company formed by a bank or other organisation for the purpose of holding shares on behalf of the beneficial owner. Nominee company employees carry out all the paperwork and other tasks associated with the documentation of shareholding and arrange for necessary transfers when a share is purchased or sold.

The company has an address at Stephen Court 18/21, St. Stephens Green Dublin 2, like many Anglo Irish companies.

The company was incorporated on the 23rd of October 1973 and is a private limited company with a latest account date of September 30, 2007. The company is a mutual and pension fund/Nominee/Trust/Trustee company registered in Ireland.

Readers will be glad to know that as of its last filing date, the company has a 100% solvency ratio, but no employees. It’s industry/activity is listed as “legal activities” – it is a nominee company after all.

The company has two directors, Patrick Whelan and William McAteer, with Natasha Mercer as secretary. This trio are on most of the company boards related to Anglo.

But here is where it seems to get interesting: shareholders.

Now obviously Anglo Irish Bank Limited has as a shareholder: “Minister of Finance, Ireland”.

But there are other shareholders, too. You see Anglo-Irish Bank (Nominees) Ltd is jointly owned by Anglo Irish Bank Limited (the Minister now) and Sean P FitzPatrick, in a 50/50 split. Seanie has no beneficial interest.

And in November 2008, prior to nationalisation but post bank guarantee, who pops up as a shareholder? NTR Public Limited Company. Remember them? Why oh why? I can only tell that NTR appears to have held a >50.00, or less than a 50% stake in Anglo-Irish Bank (Nominees) Ltd, prior to our good minister ever having a stake in the company. Nominee companies are fun. NTR likely used this nominee company along with Mr Fitzpatrick who was then still working for Anglo, for some transaction or other.

But wait. It doesn’t stop there. Does our humble company have any subsidiaries? Why yes, we do.

Tysan Invesments Ltd, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the nominee company.

And who are the people behind Tysan Investments? Let’s take a look.

Mr Denis O’Brien Director (since 30/05/2005)
Mr Gerard Davis Director (since 18/04/2006)
Mr Gary McGann Director (since 30/05/2005)
Mr John Kerry Keane Director (since 30/05/2005)
Mr Peter Butler Director (since 18/04/2006)
Mr Paul Coulson Director (since 30/05/2005)
Mr Patrick Gunne Director (since 30/05/2005)
Mr Peter Robert Butler Director (since 18/04/2006)
Mr Sean Melly Director (since 30/05/2005)
Mr Peter Butler Company Secretary (since 18/04/2006)
Mr Peter Robert Butler Company Secretary (since 18/04/2006)

Gosh, a veritable who’s who! Mr O’Brien (yes, that one) is listed as a director of a company called Tysan Investments.

Garry McGann is the same name as that chief executive of Smurfit. And is this the same John Kerry Keane?

And is that Peter Butler
, the same Anglo employee who owes Anglo Irish Bank €861,000?

Is that Paul Coulson of Ardagh Glass fame?

Is that Pat Gunne, now of Green Property (famously owned by Stephen Vernon?)

Sean Melly, who wants to buy Eircom?

Now if Tysan is wholly owned by Anglo Nominees, then we have a stake in Tysan, right? So what subsidiaries does Tysan have? I’m glad you asked. Tysan has a subsidiary called Balcuik Limited, which itself has two other subsidiaries, Atrium Property Developments Limited (formerly Alert) and Martlet Holdings, all registered in Ireland.

Tysan was incorporated on February 28, 2005. It has an address listed at First Floor 11/12 Warrington Place Dublin 2.

Balcuik subsidiary Martlet has the following directors:

Mr James McKenna Director (since 7/03/1994)
Mr Mark Munro Director (since 26/02/2003)
Mr Paul Culhane Director (since 13/11/2002)
Mr Stephen Vernon Director (since 7/03/1994)
Mr Mark Munro Company Secretary (since 21/06/2005)

Ah, now we have the Green Property connection – Stephen Vernon.

And let’s not forget Balcuik Limited, a shareholder in Martlet. Ah! Balcuik has the same directors as Tysan. But Balcuik had, a shareholder in the form of – Green Property.

And lastly to that subsidiary of Balcuik – Atrium.

Atrium has the same address as Balcuik, and has total assets of almost €10,000,000 (but with current liabilities of €4,457,315). Its last account date was May 30, 2008. And Atrium’s shareholders? The same as Tysan. And who acted as banker for Atrium? Ah yes, Anglo Irish Bank.

Praise be though, for anyone confused by this point. We have an informative document from the Competition Authority.

Proposed acquisition by John Kerry Keane, Paul Coulson, Denis O’Brien, Lindat Limited, Lar Bradshaw, Sean Fitzpatrick, Gary McGann, Paddy Wright, Sean Melly, Pat Gunne, Longstone Estates, and Lochlann Quinn, through Tysan Investments Limited of Balcuik Limited

2. The acquirers are:
• John Kerry Keane: A private individual who is active in the media sector.
• Paul Coulson: Chairman of Ardagh plc and a director of other companies.
• Denis O’Brien: A private individual who is active in the media sector.
• Lindat Limited: The owner of this company is the Chairman of Harcourt Holdings which is active in the property sector in Ireland, Britain and overseas.
• Lar Bradshaw: Chairman of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and amongst other things, serves as a non-executive director of Anglo Irish Bank Corporation plc.
• Sean Fitzpatrick: A non-executive chairman of Anglo Irish Bank Corporation plc and serves as a non-executive director of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, Greencore plc, and Aer Lingus.
• Gary McGann: Chief Executive Officer of the Jefferson Smurfit Group. He is Chairman of the Dublin Airport Authority and is President of IBEC. He serves as director for a number of companies including Anglo Irish Bank Corporation plc.
• Paddy Wright: Chairman of the RTE Authority and a non- executive director of Anglo Irish Bank Corporation plc.
• Sean Melly: An entrepreneur who is active in the media sector.
• Pat Gunne: Chief Executive of Gunne Group which is active in the
property sector in Ireland.
• Longstone Estates Limited: A property holding company owned by a family Trust.
• Lochlann Quinn: Deputy Chairman of Glen Dimplex which is active in the manufacture of electric heating and domestic appliances. Additionally, he is a Director of The Merrion Hotel.

And the deal:

Tysan does not generate any turnover in the State and is an acquisition vehicle specifically created for the purposes of acquiring Balcuik. Thus, the Authority regards the named individuals and companies rather than Tysan as the undertakings involved.1
3. Balcuik, the target, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Green Property. Balcuik’s main business activities concern the ownership of the landlord interest in Blocks A and B of the Atrium Building located in the Sandyford Industrial Estate, and the leasing of Block B to Microsoft Corporation, and carrying out ancillary landlord activities. Alert Developments Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Balcuik, owns the entire legal interest and [ ] of the beneficial interest in Block A. Balcuik’s turnover of [less than €5m] solely comprises rental income received in connection with its landlord interest in Blocks A and B of the Atrium Building.

The CA found there were no competition concerns.

I have to say I am fascinated. I had never heard of all these guys partnering together to buy some buildings in Sandyford. The Tribune though, did.

Balcuik is owned by another company called Tysan Investments, which is in turn owned by a nominee company from Anglo. However, FitzPatrick and Bradshaw are understood to remain involved in the building.

Tysan made a loss of €2.8m for the year ended 30 May 2007, up from €2.7m the previous year, and the total shareholders’ deficit stood at €5.5m. It had an interest rate swap agreement denominated in euro to convert debt of €76.5m from floating rate to fixed rate. That facility expires on 31 May 2010.

Well there you go. I do wonder now though if Anglo has any charges on those properties, and if, at the end of the day, we own them (with Seanie of course). And all of those Green Property connections would lead me back to that conversation between Brian Lenihan and Stephen Vernon that was listed in Mr Lenihan’s diary for January 30, 2009, at 6.30 in the evening. What did they talk about?

I guess I am just as confused as everyone else… and Tysan is only one of the subsidiaries.

Update: Readers will be glad to know that there are new directors of Anglo-Irish Bank (Nominees) Ltd: Donal O’Connor and Declan Quilligan. Natasha Mercer remains secretary. The company has €3 of share capital (well it is a nominee company).

I’ve uploaded the most recent financial statement of the company.

Interestingly it says the following in a note at the end: William McAteer held 3.4m shares in Anglo at September 30, 2008, 502k shares as options and conditional awards of 80k shares. Pat Whelan had 447k shares, 603k share options and 68k condition share awards. Natasha Mercer had 17k shares, share options of 80k and 6,800 conditional share awards. These have all since been nationalised.

I have also uploaded the company’s most recent B1 Return.

Update 2: And the very helpful Grumpy has further clarified that background. I have corrected as appropriate.

Seanies holding in the company is in a nominee capacity. He has no beneficial interest. The reason for the holding is that the company predated the legislation allowing single member companies which was only introduced in the 90s. You will note the accounts state that the company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Anglo.

As a nominee company, it holds the shares in Tysan Investments but it is not a wholly owned subsidiary as it is acting as a nominee.

Re Balcuik the accounts are linked below. Although the shares in the parent company are held by Anglo Nominees, the accounts disclose the beneficial interests of the directors but this only accounts for 40% of the ownership.

Gunne, Melly, O’Brien, McGann, Keane & Coulson each have 200 shares or 6.66% each. That leaves Lindat Limited (this is a Pat Doherty of Harcourt Developments company),Lar Bradshaw, Sean Fitzpatrick, Paddy Wright, Longstone Estates Limited and Lochlann Quinn divvying up the rest.

Anglo does have a charge over the €106m borrowings that Tysan has from them secured on its assets. It also has a seperate charge on the Balcuik property.

The shareholders in Tysan don’t seem to have invested anything in the company apart from €3k share capital. The liabilities of the company are pretty much all bank loans. The charge, below, indicates there is no personal recourse to the borrowers. So, what happened? Anglo funded €70m of the purchase in 2005 and the 2006 accounts for Balcuik show a “ultimate shareholders loan” of €30m (probably lent by Anglo). The property was then revalued to €137m, handy that, and Anglo increased the borrowings and repaid the €30m to the shareholders. So there is no equity there. Anglo get arrangement fees of around €2m and as much interest as possible and probably all of the risk.

Company documents:

Tysan Accounts
Tysan B1
Balcuik charge
Balcuik accounts
Lindat B1
Lindat accounts

What did we buy?

For two weeks now I’ve been trawling the companies wholly owned, or party owned, by Anglo Irish Bank. It’s tough going. I plan to tabulate all the information so people can see just what was nationalised, and just what we now own. I’ve already found some curious connections, curious companies, and some newsworthy items.

Shall I dump it all in one go, or drip feed it? 🙂

Mary Coughlan's talking points

[cross posted to thestory.ie)

Last month I sent the following Freedom of Information request:

FOI Unit
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment,
Kildare Street,
Dublin 2,

August 13, 2009

Request for access to records under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003

Dear Sir/Madam,

In accordance with Section 7 of the above mentioned act, I wish to request access to the following records which I believe to be held by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (“the Department”):

1) The portfolio prepared by the Department in advance of Mary Coughlan (“the Minister”) becoming Enterprise Minister on May 7, 2008, in order to brief her on her new role.

2) All briefing notes prepared for the Minister for an interview on RTE Radio with Marian Finucane, in March 2009.

3) All correspondence between John McGuinness TD and the Minister between April 1, 2009 and May 15, 2009. By correspondence I am referring to all written communications such as email, letter, memo etc sent from Mr McGuinness to Ms Coughlan and from Ms Coughlan to Mr McGuinness or either of their respective offices.

My preferred form of access to these documents is in digital (PDF/doc) format.

If you decide to request further payment I would like to be provided with an itemised fees receipt outlining precisely why an additional cost is required.

Please find enclosed a cheque in the amount of €15 in respect of the fee for a request under the Acts. I look forward to hearing from you in the time period prescribed under the Acts.

Please contact me by email to discuss any problems which may occur with this request.

Call it a curiosity FOI. The portfolio in 1) was mentioned by Coughlan herself during the course of the interview. For some strange reason, it is not included or referred to in the reply. I will be following up 1) this week.

I am *always* curious to know what briefing notes are prepared for ministers in advance of radio interviews. After listening to her interview with Marian Finucane in March, I was curious to see what had been prepared. A recent falling out with Mr McGuinness also formed part of the request, but not much resulted from that, as I more or less expected. They don’t write down much these days.

But Ms Coughlan’s “speaking points” are interesting. I will be seeking more of these in the coming weeks from other departments. It gives us an insight into what spin is being used by ministers, what are the rehearsed talking points, and might tell us just how much (or how little) ministers know what they are talking about.

Mary Coughlan FOI

Included is a letter to John McGuinness and talking points for Marian Finucane interview. You can listen to that interview here (via realplayer).

Finance briefing documents

[cross posted to thestory.ie]

As part of my FOI request seeking the diary of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, I also sought briefing documents used by himself and the Department’s Secretary General David Doyle. My request asked for:

1. The diary of the Minister for Finance (dates given)
2. Briefing notes prepared for the Minister for Finance for an appearance before the Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service, and
3. Briefing notes prepared for the Secretary General of the Department of Finance for his appearance before the PAC.

I have uploaded the full extent of my request, and their response.

Item two was refused outright.

Item three. Is largely granted but a number of records or parts of records have been refused. Furthermore, records relating to the President do not fall within the scope of the Act and accordingly, that part of the briefing material concerned with Vote 1 (President’s Establishment) has been excluded (S. 46 (d)).

In the document they outline what has been included.

I am uploading the released documents in parts, because it was over 200mb (800 pages) in size.

Part 1 is now available.

Liam Carroll's web of companies

[cross posted to thestory.ie]

I’ve made a stab at tracking the web of companies that fall under the various Morston Investments companies. There are a number of curious facts about these companies, clues of which can be found in some of the locations and names of companies. The number after each company name is my own, to help me distinguish between the various Morstons.

Liam Carroll spreadsheet

I was especially curious about Morston UK. Mr Carroll does not appear anywhere on the company information for the UK firm. However, Morston UK has a Dutch subsidiary called Vantive Finance (interesting name), which in turn has an Irish subsidiary called Vantive CC (which does list Mr Carroll as a director). Why this complex structure? And who are the curious pair who direct Morston UK? (more on that later).

Another curious name to pop up relates to Morston (4). The holding companies all contain typical directorships (Carroll and Pope), bar one. That directorship in one of the subsidiaries (Zoe OptionGrantco) is one Ms Natalia Romanova, according to company information, who is based in Dublin.

Thoughts anyone?

Liam Carroll's complex web

There has been much talk in recent months of Liam Carroll’s ‘complex web’ of companies, which all seem to owe each other money. Take one down, it has been said, and they all fall. But no one has yet tried to construct exactly what this web looks like. I think I’ll have a go. It is complex, so I am open to correction, but this is the best I can make out. I will place this in a tree structure to try and demonstrate the ultimate owners, and the various subsidiaries. In all cases I am referrign to Irish registered company in the table below.

Morston Investments Limited (Ultimate owner of all companies).

a) b) c) d) e) f) g) are all subsidiaries of Vantive Holdings.

1) Vantive Holdings
a) Danoval Limited
a i) Bulwark Limited
i) Jarmar Properties Limited
ii) Tallaght Town Centre Construction & Development Limited
iii) Bronzone Limited
b) Crossman Properties Limited
i) Crossman Northwall Limited
c) Danninger
c) i) Gainsco Limited
c) ii) Greencore Group Public Limited Company
c) iii) Greencore and its dozens of subsidiaries
i) North Quay Investments Limited
d) Riversmith Limited
i) Chinook Investments
e) Zoe Developments
e i) Fabrizia Developments
i) Barrow Echo
ii) Barrow Gamma
e ii) Eppo Developments
e i) Pepo Limited
e ii) Alexion Management
e iii) Chinook Investments
e iv) Netusa
e v) Oze Construction
f) Peytor Developments
f i) Parlez International Limited
ii) Bulwark Limited
ii) Royceton
g) Villeer Developments
g i) JP Ryan & Sons (Properties) Limited
g ii) Everill Developments Limited
ii) Zed Developments

This probably looks quite confusing. It might be better to put it into a spreadsheet.

A few of these names piqued my interest. I was curious about the unusually titled Barrow Echo and Barrow Gamma. Wherever I see number sequences, colour sequences or other logical name progressions in company names, I always take a closer look. But I will come back to that later.

Morris Tribunal website FOI

[cross posted to thestory.ie]

I have blogged previously about my request for information concerning the Morris Tribunal website, and its disappearance earlier this year. I noticed that since my FOI was submitted, the Morris Tribunal website had reappeared. It seems this was as a result of my request.

To recap: I submitted the following request

Request for access to records under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003
Dear Sir/Madam,

In accordance with Section 7 of the above mentioned Acts, I wish to request access to the following records which I believe to be held by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (”the Department”):

1) The contract between the Department and Fanore Software, relating to the development of the website for the Morris Tribunal.

2) A breakdown of fees relating to the contract.

3) All transcripts of Morris Tribunal public sittings.

4) An archived digital copy of the website (morristribunal.ie), which was made available to the Department by Fanore after the original website was removed.

My preferred form of access to these documents is in digital format. All transcripts of the Tribunal are held in digital format.

It is my understanding that the contract between Fanore Software and the Department has been concluded, as such the provision of the contract and a breakdown of fees should not give rise to any problems of commercial confidentiality, particularly given the unique nature of the contract and the fact that it is no longer active.

If you decide to request further payment I would like to be provided with an itemised fees receipt outlining precisely why an additional cost is required.

Please find enclosed a cheque in the amount of €15 in respect of the fee for a request under the Acts. I look forward to hearing from you in the time period prescribed.

Please contact me by email to discuss any problems which may occur with this request.

Sincerely

Gavin Sheridan

They have granted my request, and the results of my FOI are now available in PDF.

So what new information has come to light as a result?

We have learned the breakdown of costs relating to designing and hosting the website. It amounts to €14,474.80, for June 2002 to March 2009. Fanore software charged €1,452 a year for hosting, and charged €217.80 to register the domain. They also charged €729 to decommission the website, which has now been restored. In my personal opinion, as someone who hosts websites myself, these costs are excessive.

The Department has said: “Given the interest that still remains in the Tribunal, the Department has decided to reinstate the website. It may be accessed at its original address morristribunal.ie. Transcripts in relation to Days 429 to 686 are currently available on the site and arrangements are in hand to make the transcripts for the remaining days of the public hearings available.”

It should be noted that as of today, none of the transcripts are available, as the links to the transcripts are broken, or the transcripts themselves are missing. I will contact the Department and make them aware of this fact.

It should also be noted that the transcripts are held digitally in the obscure .ptx format, and not in normal formats such as PDF or TXT. This is a product of the transcription provider used by the Tribunal. I may draft another FOI to learn of the cost of these transcription services.

And as a result of this FOI request, the Department has committed itself to placing all transcripts of public sittings on the web, along with a centralised website for storing all reports of the Tribunal. No bad thing at all.


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